Lenten Evensong at Mediator, Allentown on March 4

By Clint Miller

Lenten Evensong
March 4, 4:00 p.m.

Mediator’s choir will sing Choral Evensong on the afternoon of March 4 at four o’clock. Of special interest for this Lenten Evensong will be a performance of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis composed by our own Neil Farrell. We are, indeed, fortunate to have Neil, his wife, Leslie, and their two sons, Liam and Jack as members of our church family. 

Neil and his family arrived in the Lehigh Valley from New York City a few years ago where Neil had a distinguished career as a professional musician, composer and singer. He was a frequent tenor soloist with most the city’s best professional and volunteer choruses; among the most notable being the renowned Renaissance ensemble, Pomerium,  Voices of Ascension and the New York Virtuoso Singers, to name only a few. For five years he was a member of the choir of The Cathedral of St. John the Divine and has also been featured as soloist on numerous recordings by these and other prominent musical ensembles. As a composer and arranger, his works have been performed and recorded by the above ensembles as well as The Western Wind Ensemble, Canticum Novum, and Equal Voices, among others. He has written more than a dozen anthems for the Choir St. Ignatius of Loyola, of which he was a member for 18 years. The Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis were his first adult compositions written while he was in the choir at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Neil still travels back and forth to New York to perform with several of these musical ensembles, most recently with Pomerium. He also occasionally sings with our choir when his schedule permits and when we are in need of his enviable talents. 

The Choir will also sing Maurice Greene’s (1896-1755) wonderful anthem, “Lord, let me know mine end”, one of the choir’s favorites, which they last performed a couple of years ago. Greene succeeded to every major musical post in England becoming organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral (1718), organist and composer of the Chapel Royal (1727) and Master of the King’s Music (1735). He was also professor of music at Cambridge. 

Sadly, Gerre Hancock, the distinguished organist and Choirmaster of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Manhattan for over three decades, died last month, January 17, in  Austin, Texas where he was Professor of organ and sacred music at the University of Texas. He was renowned in the profession for his skills of improvisation, virtuosity at the organ and his superb skills as choir trainer. Writing about the St. Thomas choir in The New York Times in 2004, the music critic, Allan Kozinn, said, “ It produces a polished and beautifully balanced sound that for sacred music ….. is about the best that New York has to offer. The concluding voluntary on March 4 will be his organ composition “Aria” composed in 1963 and dedicated to his wife, Judith, also a distinguished organist and musician. 

As is our custom, a gala reception will follow the Evensong in the Commons Room so mark your calendars and invite a friend. 

Canon Mark Laubach's 25th

May 22 Evensong and Laubach Celebration

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Canon Mark Laubach’s service to the church following a choral Evensong at 5:00 pm Sunday, May 22, in the church, at 35 South Franklin Street.  Evensong is one of the most beautiful services in the Anglican tradition, and the public is invited to stay for the reception afterward.

Music at the Evensong will include Let the People Praise Thee, O God, the majestic anthem composed by William Mathias for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in July, 1981.  The St. Stephen’s choirs under Mark Laubach’s direction also will sing the Evening Canticles in E by Herbert Murrill, and William Smith’s Preces & Responses.

Mark Laubach came to St. Stephen's as Minister of Music January 2, 1986, just two years after winning the National Young Artists Competition in organ performance.  He was appointed a Fellow in Church Music at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, and shortly thereafter came to St. Stephens.  Canon Laubach has performed in major venues all over the world, including the Kennedy Center, St. Thomas Church and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (both in New York), and in London at St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, as well as the King’s Chapel in Cambridge.

Canon Laubach administers a busy liturgical, choral, concert, and broadcasting schedule at St. Stephen’s. In 2002, under his supervision the church’s large pipe organ was rebuilt by the Berghaus Organ Company of Chicago. This instrument now stands among the finest of its type in the Mid-Atlantic region, having won high praise from organists and audiences.
Suzanne Fisher Staples
570.561.5962 (cell)

Festive Evensong at Mediator Allentown, May 2

On May 2, the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Mediator’s Choir will sing a Festival Choral Evensong at 4:00 p.m. The service music, Preces and Responses, is by the English composer, John  Barnard, born in 1948,  and the canticles, Magnificat and Nunc dimittis are sung to settings by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924). The opening Introit was composed by the American composer, David Gerig who was born in 1948 in Wooster, Ohio and now teaches at the University of New Mexico.
The Anthem at the Offertory, a long time favorite of the Choir, is Edgar Bainton’s setting of the text from the book of Revelation, “And I saw a new heaven”. The Revelation passage is included in the Epistle Lesson for the day. Bainton was born in London in 1880, the son of a Congregational minister. He won an open scholarship to the Royal College of Music to study theory with Walford Davies and in 1899 he received a scholarship to study composition with Stanford. He wrote extensively in all areas of musical performance including three symphonies and other orchestral music, chamber music and a great deal of choral and vocal music both sacred and secular. “And I saw a new heaven” is his most well known sacred choral composition. In 1933 he emigrated to Australia where he taught at the New South Wales State Conservatorium of Music where he founded an opera company and also founded the New South Wales Symphony later to become the Sydney Symphony. He died on December 8, 1956 at Point Piper, New South Wales.
2010 is the 100th anniversary of the birth of the noted American composer, Samuel Barber. He was born March 9, 1910 in West Chester, Pennsylvania and died on January 23, 1981. He is best known to the general public by his orchestral piece, Adagio for Strings, composed in 1935 and premiered in 1938 by the NBC Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Arturo Toscanini. Originally written as the slow movement of his String Quartet, Opus 11 it has been transcribed for several musical media including an organ transcription by the organist/composer William Strickland a friend of Barber’s. Mr. Miller will play the Strickland organ transcription of the Adagio as the concluding voluntary.

 A gala reception will follow the Evensong in Commons Room.